Since 2009, we have provided research in support of the anti-smoking social marketing campaigns of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY). VFHY’s programs are targeted to subpopulations of youth, called peer crowds. These peer crowds share cultural norms including clothing styles, music, and most importantly, attitudes towards smoking. Our recent research confirmed that there are at least five distinct peer crowds with different smoking rates, different attitudes towards smoking, and different peer influences. The study demonstrated that by targeting specific social groups of teens, youth with the highest prevalence and susceptibility to smoking can be effectively reached. Our work determined that three peer crowds, Hip Hop, Alternative, and Country accounted for 49% of all youth in Virginia, but 65% of youth who use tobacco. By developing communications programs that target and are credible to these crowds, the efforts are much more successful than typical state-run programs.
To further review how the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth is using these findings, click here.